Bishop Brian’s Message Regarding Pastoral Care of the Sick
Dear brothers and sisters,
Looking after those who are ill, both pastorally and spiritually, is very important to our priests and the whole community. The Gospels relate Jesus’ great love for the sick, including his curing of some of them. During Mass today we heard that when Peter and John healed a sick man, they insisted that it was the Risen Jesus who had actually cured him, and not them. Jesus continues his ministry through the Church and, in a very particular way, through the Sacraments. When someone is anointed it is Jesus himself who offers spiritual, and sometimes physical, healing. However, in a rural diocese like ours – especially on islands without a resident priest – receiving the Sacrament of Anointing cannot always happen in an emergency situation. This challenge has recently grown with fewer ferry sailings and other restrictions being put in place. Does this mean that the Lord will not help those who are ill? Of course not! While Jesus personally graces someone through the Sacraments, his activity cannot be restricted only to the Sacraments. Jesus can, and does, minister out with the Sacraments. Today’s Gospel demonstrated that the Risen Lord is not bound by human limitations and that he transforms people from within, in the way he knows is best.
I know that our priests are already praying with those who are sick by phone if they cannot be physically present. This, and other novel efforts, are bringing the sick, their families and carers comfort. I also want you to know that I am offering a recording of myself leading a short ‘Prayer Service for Someone who is Sick’ for when neither a priest nor deacon can be present. It can be played at home or in a hospital or Care Home. I am also offering the text of a ‘Prayer Service for the Sick’ which can be led by a layperson. (PRAYING WITH THE SICK WITHOUT A PRIEST OR DEACON ) This means that you can pray together as a family at home for someone who is ill or a Catholic member of staff could lead the prayers in a hospital or Care Home. I also encourage you to regularly pray together at home using your own cherished prayers and devotions.
May the Risen Lord touch all our hearts, and especially of those who are sick, this Easter Season.